Discussion Forums - Homeschoolers' Corner Homeschoolers' Corner

Topic: Does anyone use writer's handbooks to teach writing?

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Does anyone use writer's handbooks to teach writing?
Date Posted: 10/2/2008 5:56 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2008
Posts: 28
Back To Top

If you use a writers handbook to teach writing I'd like to hear how you do it. My daughter came out of PS not knowing how to write but using first and second grade type materials to teach her would most likely offend and hurt. She has to take a standardized test in writing this year.

Date Posted: 10/3/2008 12:29 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
Posts: 662
Back To Top

I use writer's handbooks more as a reference than a textbook that we march through.  When I see a particular problem show up in my daughter's writing (or the writing of other students in my literature or writing classes), I'll find a section in the handbook that covers that problem.

I recommend the handbooks published by Write Source.  The junior high version is called Write Source 2000, and is very user-friendly for anyone to just jump in and follow their steps to building an essay, etc.  There is no grade level listed on the book, so you can sneak by and use it with a younger high schooler as well.  Their high school books are called Writers, Inc. and Write For College.  I got the second one here on PBS--it looks great, too.

There are some great curriculums out there that teach writing, but I find the best ones to be kind of expensive.  Institute for Excellence in Writing has a great program, but it costs big bucks.  (I'm sure it's worth it, I just haven't had the money available for it.)  There are also lots of websites that have free writing tips.  If she's taking a standardized test, I'd recommend checking out sites that teach the five-paragraph essay.  It's kind of formulaic, but it's a nice tool to have in a writing-pinch.

Just in case you're looking, here's a website that links to online writing lessons about just about anything you can think of:  its.leesummit.k12.mo.us/writing.htm

ETA:  I just checked, and all of the Write Source handbooks I listed above are available on PBS.  The easiest way to see them all at once is to check out author Patrick Sebranek.

Hope that helps!

Last Edited on: 10/3/08 12:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/4/2008 6:23 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2008
Posts: 28
Back To Top

Thanks I asked because I have 2 (I posted one here after I found a much simpler one at the Goodwill. I used the posted one in a college course). I have 2 books that teach the five paragraph method and she's still not getting it (we started in early July). I could be snotty if she doesn't do well on that portion of the test (the other two portions I know she'll do well on) and point out she spent the last 3 years in their schools and I'm trying to undo the damage still but I doubt that would sin me any Brownie points (though this is our last year in this district, and it is 3 years until we have to do this again.)


Date Posted: 10/4/2008 7:37 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
Posts: 662
Back To Top

The simplest description I ever heard to explain the five paragraph essay compared it to a hamburger:

The first and the last paragraphs are the buns.  They "surround" your burger with an introduction and a conclusion.  The middle three paragraphs ar the "meat."  Each one is a point that supports your introduction.

It's not cheating to help her with each step of putting her writing together until it can become habit.  Sometimes schools are hesitant to help "too much" because they're afraid of cheating.  Unfortunately, the students are left to muddle on their own.  How can they know how do do it on their own if they've never had the process modeled?  We wouldn't do this to teach cooking, driving, etc.  Let her write with you until she can make the process her own.

Hope that helps.  Good luck!

Date Posted: 10/5/2008 9:22 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2008
Posts: 28
Back To Top

AHA we just found one test that we can use that doesn't include writing in grade 5. YIPPEE.

Date Posted: 10/11/2008 1:53 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2006
Posts: 184
Back To Top

Handwriting without Tears makes a great advanced writing book that has stuff like Latin and Greek root words in it.

I highly reccomend it and it is not that expensive at all. 

Here it is:


For actual composition, my friend has had a lot of luck with a program called THE BRAVE WRITER

It is online.

Last Edited on: 10/11/08 1:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: Writing Guides
Date Posted: 7/28/2012 2:29 PM ET
Member Since: 3/7/2008
Posts: 114
Back To Top

Just posted All Write and Writing Smart Junior for anyone looking for writing guides for middle school.

Last Edited on: 7/30/12 10:48 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/29/2012 12:22 PM ET
Member Since: 9/8/2010
Posts: 40
Back To Top

The Write Stuff is a fun program, probably for middle school, but should be in reach of a fifth grader with some help. Not the absolute most academic program I've ever seen (some example assignments include writing a three paragraph story about a spider), but a good way to introduce kids to the fact that they can write and that writing can be fun, while introducing basic writing and editing skills. Starts with paragraphs and moves up to short essays.

Also, in later middle school or high school, Write Shop is an excellent program for teaching interesting, well rounded writing. Defiantly not for the child who hates to write, as they will simply hate writing more at the end, but I've improved my own writing immensely with it. The course has two levels, with a rumor that a third is coming, each designed to do in one year, but for older or more advanced students, you could go for the first two in one year.